Since the dawn of the electric guitar, hip players and manufacturers have been aware of the degree to which the design and specs of the magnetic pickups used on any given instrument will affect its sound and performance. Never before, however, have there been so many options available for so many different types of guitars. Players today have access to accurate reproductions of the most revered of vintage pickup designs from 50 years ago and more, along with any conceivable hotrod, modification or upgrade of the form, plus countless original and adventurous designs that bring something entirely new to the table. And all of these are available from both large replacement-unit manufacturers and small, independent craftsmen alike, as well as the major guitar manufacturers themselves.It's a revolution of tone, to be sure, and that means there's a dizzying amount of information to take on board if you hope to nail down the pickups, and therefore the sound, that are right for you and your instrument.
The magical tonal properties of certain pickups have become almost a religion with many players, and an industry has been born out of guitarists' desires to alter their tone by swapping this critical link in the signal chain. Changing pickups can result in one of the most dramatic and immediate sonic alterations achievable from any single-component swap that can be made on your entire guitar. It's also one of the simplest modifications to achieve, and often relatively affordable, too. Swapping pickups can yield dramatic changes in gain, dynamics, frequency range and overall voice - all the elements that combine to create your tone.It can also bring about extremely subtle sonic adjustments that are arguably significant only to the player themselves, but are nevertheless worth achieving. Dive in blind, however, and this alteration in tone, whether subtle or dramatic, is entirely random, and potentially counterproductive. Understanding precisely how any pickup swap will alter your sound, rather than taking a stab in the dark - and then either stabbing again or just deciding to live with it if the results aren't what you hoped for - requires a lot of study and thought.
The better you understand what makes different pickups sound the way they do, and how different elements of their design and construction contribute to variations in tone and response, the better you'll be able to assess how a given set of pickups might work toward your own sonic goals.This is where "Guitar Pickups: A Guide for the Player" comes in, and myth, hype and snake oil go out. Get the knowledge, and it's a whole lot easier to bring the tone onboard.
Buy The Guitar Pickup Handbook book by Dave Hunter from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(279mm x 216mm x 16mm)
Publisher: Backbeat Books
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Author Biography - Dave Hunter
Dave Hunter is a leading guitar writer and a musician. His books include Totally Guitar, Guitar effects Pedals and Guitar Rigs.